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nursing home attorney in Alabama

Common Forms of Nursing Home Abuse

When an aging loved one is no longer able to care for themselves, family members often have no other practical choice than to place them in a nursing facility. By doing so, they place their loved one’s care and quality of life in the hands of those who operate and work for the facility. Sadly, far too many nursing homes have violated their duty to provide even a minimum standard of care to their residents, and this problem has only gotten worse in recent years.

According to a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published last year, the number of cited abuse deficiencies (in the nation’s nursing facilities) more than doubled over a five-year period from 2013 through 2017. In addition, the GAO found that nearly 43% of the abuse deficiencies in 2017 were cited at the highest levels of severity, compared with only 32% in 2013.

It is not hard to see why cases of nursing home abuse are on the rise. Our population is aging, and an average of 10,000 Americans turn 65 years old every single day. At the same time, there has been consolidation in the nursing home industry as well as an increase in the number of for-profit facilities. To top it all off, we have an extremely tight labor market that makes it more difficult to adequately staff nursing facilities, and those who are hired tend not to be properly vetted or trained for their positions.

One of the most alarming findings from the GAO report was the widespread lack of enforcement when an incident of nursing home abuse occurs. They found that enforcement actions are imposed but not implemented in about one-third of reported nursing home abuse cases, and in only 8% of all reported cases, an enforcement action is actually implemented. This means that in roughly 92% of abuse cases that get reported, nothing of any consequence is done about it.

What are the Most Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse?

The GAO places abuse perpetrated upon nursing home residents into three general categories:

  • Physical Abuse: Pushing, punching, hitting, slapping, beating, and striking a resident/patient with an object are some examples of physical abuse that occur frequently in nursing facilities. This type of abuse tends to happen because many nursing home employees lack the temperament needed to work with the elderly. They get frustrated, fly off the handle, and take out their frustrations on those under their care. Of course, there are some that simply do this because of poor character.
  • Verbal/Psychological Abuse: Nursing facility residents depend heavily on their caregivers to meet all of their needs. This makes them extremely vulnerable to various forms of verbal and psychological abuse. These may include insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, and harassment. A caregiver may also isolate a resident/patient by ignoring them or keeping them from visiting with other residents.
  • Sexual Abuse: As hard as it is to imagine, sexual abuse happens to the elderly in nursing facilities far more frequently than most people realize. According to a CNN investigation from a couple years back, more than 1,000 nursing facilities throughout the country were cited for mishandling suspected cases of sexual abuse. This type of abuse can come in many forms, including inappropriate touching or fondling, sexual harassment or humiliation, forced nudity, and assault. Many predators see the elderly as easy targets, particularly those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia who may have difficulty remembering what happened or getting anyone to believe their story.

Was your Loved One Abused in an Alabama Nursing Home? Contact M. Adam Jones and Associates for Assistance

With so many of the elderly being subjected to nursing home abuse, family members need to be ever vigilant in ensuring that this does not happen to their loved ones. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to be proactive and stay as involved as possible in their care. Visit them frequently, get to know their caregivers, and speak with their caregivers and supervisors regularly. By doing this, you will demonstrate to the facility that you expect nothing less than the best quality of care for your aging loved one.

If you have good reason to believe that your loved one is being abused, you need to take steps right away to put a stop to this. Report nursing home abuse to the proper authorities, and if your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911. Next, contact us to discuss your legal options. Call us today at 334-581-9238 or messages online to speak with a member of our legal team about your case. You may also stop by our Dothan, AL office in person at your convenience. We look forward to serving you!

nursing home attorney in Alabama

5 Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Placing an aging loved one in a nursing home is always a difficult and heart-wrenching decision. Sometimes, it reaches the point when there are no other viable options for the family. Nursing home residents and their family members have the right to expect that they will be well cared-for as they live out their golden years. Sadly, many of today’s nursing facilities are not living up to their obligation to take care of our seniors.

There are over 2 million seniors living in nursing facilities in the U.S. In recent years, the quality of care in these facilities has severely diminished. Aging demographics have led to higher patient loads, inadequate staffing, and the hiring of poorly-trained and/or poorly-vetted staff. At the same time, consolidation in the industry has created fewer available options at a time when more seniors are in need of care.

Current conditions in America’s nursing homes have resulted in a growing number of cases of abuse and neglect. How widespread is the problem? In 2013, ABC News reported that the elderly are abused at one out of every three nursing homes in the United States. A joint report by USA Today and the Boston Globe from earlier this year found that the problem is even worse in VA nursing homes. These numbers should be concerning for anyone who has a loved one living in a nursing facility.

If you have someone close to you who is living in a nursing home, it can be hard to detect abuse or neglect. When you come to visit, the staff will typically put on their best face and do anything they can to cover up any wrongdoing. Fortunately, there are some signs to look for if you suspect that your elderly loved one is being abused.

Here are five common signs of nursing home abuse:

Unexplained Injuries: As we get older, we become more susceptible to bruises, falls, fractures, and other types of injuries. So, it is no surprise that many seniors suffer these types of injuries while they are in a nursing home. That said, be very suspicious if your loved one or staff have a hard time explaining how a certain injury occurred. There are legitimate reasons why people become injured, but this can also be the result of physical or sexual abuse, or even neglect. Along these same lines, an unexplained death could also be the result of abuse or neglect. This is a definite possibility if your loved one was in fairly good condition when passed away suddenly.

Malnutrition or Dehydration: Be aware of sudden changes in weight and overall health. This could be a sign that your loved one is malnourished, dehydrated, or both. Malnutrition and dehydration can occur because of understaffing or poorly trained staff who are unable or unwilling to take the time to ensure that their patients eat properly and receive the right amount of fluids. Common signs of malnutrition and dehydration include dry mouth, cracked lips, a swollen tongue, reduced frequency of urination, and fatigue.

Poor Hygiene: One common symptom of elder abuse is a deterioration in hygiene. Signs of this include soiled bedding and/or clothes, unwashed hair and body, overgrown nails, poor dental care, and generally unsanitary and unsafe living conditions.

Sudden Changes in Mood or Behavior: You know your loved one’s personality better than anyone else. So, if you notice that he/she is suddenly depressed, anxious, angry, agitated, or withdrawn and this is out of character, it may be a sign that abuse is occurring.

Reluctance to Talk in the Presence of Staff: When a nursing home resident is being abused, they are often intimidated or threatened by the staff into staying silent about it when family or friends are around. If you find that your loved one suddenly clams up when certain employees are around, this is a serious cause for concern. On a related note, if you are not allowed to visit with your loved one without a certain staff member being present, that is even further indication that there is a serious problem here.

What to Do if you Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

If you believe that someone close to you is being abused in a nursing home, it is important to take immediate action, even if the abuse does not seem life-threatening. If this is a life-threatening or emergency situation, call 911 or your local police and get help right away.

Here are some other steps you should take:

  • Fully document all signs and symptoms of abuse;
  • Speak with your loved one privately (if possible) to discuss what is happening;
  • If the abuse has occurred in an Alabama nursing facility, you should can report this to the Alabama Adult Protective Services by calling (334) 242-1350 or toll-free at (800) 458-7214;
  • Speak with an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.

At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we understand the combination of grief and outrage family members feel when they learn that a nursing facility they entrusted to look after their aging loved one betrays that trust. We share your frustration and outrage, and we work tirelessly to ensure that those responsible for this egregious behavior are held fully accountable. We have extensive experience and a successful track record representing clients who have been mistreated in nursing homes, and we have the skills, resources, and commitment to provide our clients with the strong legal representation they need and deserve.

For a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys, call our office today at 334-699-5599 or send us a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.